How does Leverage work? As in physics, leverage is a simple tool to make your work more effective. It is loved by funders (those supplying the leverage), donors (those who meet the match), and of course, the organizations who receive them. Leverage uses a gift from a funder to inspire giving from other donors and take three different forms:

True Challenge:  All or nothing ~ Real urgency   (least common)
Match:  As much as is raised ~ Less risk
Challenge giving: No risk ~ hope to inspire giving  (most common)

Depending on how they are structured, Match or Challenge Gifts are great ways to help with the 3 elements of fundraising – Renew, Recruit, Cultivate. If applied to support new programming, they may recruit new donors who take an interest in your expanded work. If part of a Capital or Endowment Campaign, they might cultivate much higher giving from donors who support your operations, or annual fund.

Why is Leverage so attractive?
Funders like it from the Big Picture viewpoint. They see that by offering a challenge or match, they can make a large impact and help an organization move towards greater sustainability. Donors with more modest means like to see their dollars go further and that they are part of a group effort to support an organization they love.

Leverage in Campaigns is part of Campaign Design, or how the campaign is structured to be attractive to donors. It can be targeted to staff, family foundations, businesses, or other specific groups unique to the organization or campaign. Match or challenge gifts can help spark the early adopters to give, help give a boost in the middle of a campaign, or be the inspiration to finish the public phase and meet campaign goal.

Leverage in annual fundraising is a really good way to inspire giving to specific programs, to increase size of giving, bring in new donors. It is often used at events to encourage “new and increased gifts” or can be a match that lasts for an extended period of time. Consider how you can take advantage of a specific situation such as honoring a long-time leader, starting a legacy society, or celebrating a milestone year.

Using the Leverage
Make sure to have clear and accurate talking points for the specific leverage you have secured. Share it with all who could be ambassadors for making sure you meet the match or challenge. This includes staff, board, and committee members. Additionally, look for ways to include it in newsletters, e-blasts, appeals, on the website and in social media posts. Keep good records of your progress to share with the funder, your board and the donor base.

Securing the Match or Challenge takes building relationships with your donors. Look at those who are already strong supporters and consider asking them to make a larger gift as a match or to be part of a pool of donors who, together, supply a leverage gift. Is it okay to ask again? Yes! (Unless they said it’s a one-time offer.) If the match was successful this year, be sure to share the impact with the donor – your gift helped us start a new program, inspired increased giving at the $500 level, brought in 75 new donors – and see if they’re interested in doing it again.

Leverage is a great tool for increasing your fundraising. Look for strategic ways to secure and apply Challenge or Match gifts and you can help your donors make a bigger impact, which in turn, helps your organization grow its mission!